Robert, Earl of Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville)
Even-tempered and twinkly-eyed, Robert is desperate for his beloved Downton to stay in the family. But with Matthew, the heir, almost certain to be called up to fight in France, will the decision be his to make?
Country Life’s prediction Unlikely to have a good war
Do say ‘It’ll all be over by Christmas’
Don’t say ‘Heir today, gone tomorrow’
Cora, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern)
Cincinnati-born heiress Cora is clever, compassionate and utterly charming.
Most importantly, she has a terrific sense of humour. She’s needed one to deal with deceased house-guests, tearaway daughters and her fortune being entailed away.
Country Life’s prediction Will keep her head when all about her are losing theirs
Do say ‘It’s only money’
Don’t say ‘Don’t Americans live in wigwams?’
Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)
A few years ago, beautiful, disdainful Mary was fighting off hordes of panting suitors. She dithered over her cousin Matthew’s proposal, still hopeful that she might do better for herself, but now, as rumours of her indiscretion with a Turkish diplomat circulate around London, her prospects look considerably less rosy.
Country Life’s prediction Will go to extraordinary lengths to secure her future
Do say ‘Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish-and-chips paper’
Don’t say ‘Turkish delight, anyone?’
Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael)
Plain and rather less than sparkling company, middle child Edith lives in the shadow of her glamorous sisters. But with the outbreak of war comes liberation.
Country Life’s prediction Undreamt-of opportunities will be the making of her
Do say ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’
Don’t say ‘You’re going to be even shorter of suitors by the time the war ends’
Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay)
The youngest Crawley sister was never going to be the sort of girl to settle down quietly to a life of crustless cucumber sandwiches. Series One saw her horrifying the rest of the family by sneaking off to political rallies, encouraging housemaid Gwen to better herself by becoming a secretary, and prancing around in a pair of new-fangled harem pants.
Country Life’s prediction Will take to war work like a duck to water
Do say ‘Those trousers are smashing’
Don’t say ‘Politics is awfully unladylike, don’t you think?’
Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith)
Not so much a battleaxe as a weapon of mass destruction, Lord Grantham’s widowed mother sees it as her duty to prevent the rest of the family from slipping into an irreversible moral decline by any means necessary. Highly suspicious of electricity, foreigners and education for women, she believes that progress is a four-letter word.
Country Life’s prediction War changes everyone-apart from the Dowager Countess
Do say ‘Yes, I quite agree’
Don’t say ‘Who cares which way you pass the Port?’
Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)
A third cousin once removed of Lord Grantham, Matthew found himself plucked from a Manchester solicitor’s office and dropped into the dazzling environs of Downton. When this reluctant heir to the earldom collided with Mary, the result was a torrent of Beatrice and Benedick-style bickering-and an engagement that never got off the ground.
Country Life’s prediction Finds himself in mortal danger on the Western Front
Do say ‘France is lovely at this time of year’
Don’t say ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile’
Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton)
Matthew’s mother and the Dowager Countess’s nemesis, doctor’s wife Isobel is a great one for rolling up her sleeves and getting stuck in. During Series One, she overhauled working practices at the village hospital and brought a much-needed touch of democracy to the annual flower show-something the Dowager Countess will never forgive her for.
Country Life’s prediction Will continue to be full of improving zeal
Do say ‘Your roses are simply glorious!’
Don’t say ‘A hospital is no place for a lady’
Mr Carson (Jim Carter)
Butler Mr Carson has been on the estate since he was a boy, and the Crawleys, to whom he is fiercely loyal, are the family he never had.
Country Life’s prediction Is determined to beat the Germans by making sure that standards don’t slip in the dining room
Do say ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’
Don’t say ‘The silver could do with a polish’
Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan)
In Series One, we caught a glimpse of housekeeper Mrs Hughes’s life pre-Downton when a former suitor returned to claim her. However, she turned down his proposal after realising that her heart would always be with Downton.
Country Life’s prediction If change
is coming, she’ll make the best of it
Do say ‘Married life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’
Don’t say ‘Go on, have a day off-we’ll be fine without you’
John Bates (Brendan Coyle)
Bates, Lord Grantham’s batman during the Boer War, limped into Downton like an injured animal. Although the new valet attracted the attentions of the more unpleasant members of staff, he and Anna, the head housemaid, became increasingly close.
Country Life’s prediction Finds himself torn between the past and the present
Do say ‘Things can only get better’
Don’t say ‘Tell me about your wife’
Sarah O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran)
O’Brien flatters the ladies of the family, but plots their downfall behind their backs. Her lowest moment came when she made Lady Grantham slip when getting out of the bath and miscarry her baby. Now, she’s determined to keep her mistress out of harm’s way.
Country Life’s prediction Turns over a new leaf
Do say ‘Forgive and forget’
Don’t say ‘Smoking kills’
Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt)
In total contrast to the Machiavellian maid O’Brien, head housemaid Anna is sweet, kind and loyal-with a real soft spot for Mr Bates. But beneath her calm, sensitive exterior is an iron will. She’ll need it if she’s to overcome all that threatens to come between her and the man she adores.
Country Life’s prediction We’re crossing our fingers for a Downton wedding
Do say ‘Love will find a way’
Don’t say ‘He’s just not that into you’
Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier)
Downton’s first footman is a liar, a petty thief and an all-round nasty piece of work. Towards the end of Series One, Thomas joined the Army Medical Corps, which he believed would keep him out of harm’s way. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Country Life’s prediction A sticky end
Do say ‘You look so handsome in uniform’
Don’t say ‘Bloodstains are a devil to get out of wool’
Vera Bates (Maria Doyle Kennedy)
The childhood sweetheart of Downton’s valet, Vera Bates is furious when she discovers that her husband has fallen for Anna, and is determined to come between them.
Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen)
A wealthy newspaper magnate, Sir Richard allows Mary to think she has power over him. But she and the rest of the Crawleys learn, to their cost, not to underestimate him.
Lavinia Swire (Zoe Boyle)
The only daughter of a successful London solicitor, Lavinia adores Matthew and would do anything to make him happy. Sparks are sure to fly if she and Mary meet.
* Subscribe to Country Life and up to £50